For as long as I’ve known Mr. P, I’ve outearned him. When we first started dating, the income gap was significant. Namely because I was pulling in nearly $40,000 as a teacher, and he was back in school finishing up his degree. Since he landed his first job out of undergrad, he has been playing catch up. This next school year, we’re headed for a role reversal of epic proportions.
An Unpaid Leave
Because my school district couldn’t have made getting details about my FMLA leave any more difficult, there are still a few unknowns about this fall. Since Half Penny will make his or her debut this summer, I’m ineligible to apply sick time to my entire leave. But I may have to burn a week’s worth of days. After that, though, my time off will be entirely unpaid, and I’ll actually be responsible for paying the district about $500 a month to keep my insurance coverage. With my income effectively -$500 a month for three months, you had better believe Mr. P is going to enjoy rockstar breadwinner status while I’m home with Half Penny. And though I was really nervous before about the fact that his income won’t actually cover all of our expenses despite the fact that our savings rate is over 50%, I’m largely at peace with it now.
A Year of Prorated Pay
As much as I’d like to tell you that come November, everything will be right in our world financially, I’m actually going to be paying for my maternity leave for the entire contract year. Since I’m taking off twelve weeks of the school year, I will not be paid for any of the time that I am off, and I am going to come back to prorated paychecks. Basically, I am fulfilling my regular duties once I return, but I will collect about 68% of my regular paycheck every other week. In short, I will get to work at 6:30 am, leave around 4 or 5 pm on a good day, and spend my evenings and weekends juggling grading, lesson planning, contacting families, and being a mom. It seems less than fair from my perspective, but thanks to some really vague wording in our contract, this is standard practice in our district. So that means until the following August, Mr. P is still bringing home way more of the bacon.
An Indefinite Amount of Smaller Checks
Currently, Mr. P and I both carry our own insurance. Mine is fantastic; his is mediocre at best. In fact, it wasn’t until their last contract that their district began offering coverage of prescriptions. Let that sink in for a moment. When I think of all the germs my immune system battles any given day, I honestly can’t imagine being forced to pay full price to combat an illness I got while doing my job. But that was his reality for a long time. So, it was a no-brainer that I would be the one picking up family coverage for Half Penny. But since my district also tacks on a $2100 yearly fine if that family plan has to cover a spouse who could otherwise get coverage of his or her own, we assumed that Mr. P would continue to carry his own insurance separately.
However, after a tedious amount of number crunching, reading vague benefit guides, and ferreting out answers, it turns out that not only would his coverage be better, but we would actually save about $500 a year paying the penalty. So that means my paychecks will be smaller indefinitely, and Mr. P’s will get larger.
What It All Means
I’d be lying if I said this wasn’t a bit of a blow to my ego. But it’s mostly unfounded and self-imposed. It’s not like Mr. P gloats for 20 minutes every time he checks his credit score and sees it inching closer towards mine. Oh, wait.
But I still have a few feathers in my cap. I’m still really proud of me for buying our house myself. It’s been fun to carry the breadwinner role. And with an extra dose of determination, between National Board and my graduate work, I’ll probably pick up that title once more the following year.
But honestly, it doesn’t matter. We agreed to combine our time, talents, and finances when we said, “I do”, so all of our spending comes out of one pot. Instead of worrying about a teeny bit of a bruised ego, my main concern is making sure that the pot continues to get filled, so that we can get back on track with our money goals. After all, that’s what combining finances is all about.
So Tell Me…Have you ever found yourself having to face a reduced income? Besides ice cream, how did you cope?